Virtual Worlds


Virtual Worlds is a computer based simulated environment.
It can be populated by many other users who can create a personal avatar, and simultaneously and independently explore around in the virtual world, to participate in its activities and communicate with others in the world. The Virtual World must continue to exist after a avatar exits the world. The virtual world should preserve the user-made changes.

Origin / History

* Time line of Virtual World

1st Phase Late 1970s - Text-Based Virtual Worlds
1979 - MUDs and MUSHes - Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle complete the first
multi-user dungeon or multi-user domain—a multiplayer, real-time, virtual gaming world described primarily in text.

2nd Phase 1980s - Graphical Interface and Commercial Application
1986/1989 - Habitat for Commodore64 (1986) and Fujitsu platform (1989)
Partly inspired by William Gibson’s Neuromancer. The first
commercial simulated multi-user environment using 2D
graphical representations and employing the term “avatar,”
borrowed from the Sanskrit term meaning the deliberate
appearance or manifestation of a deity in human form.

3rd Phase 1990s - User-Created Content, 3D Graphics, Open-Ended Socialization, Integrated Audio
1994 - Web World - The first 2.5D (isometric) world where tens of thousands
could chat, build, and travel.
1995 - World Inc - One of the first publicly available 3D virtual user
1995 - Activeworlds - Based entirely on Snow Crash, popularized the project of
creating an actual Metaverse.
1996 - OnLive! Traveler - The first publicly available system that natively utilized
spatial voice chat and incorporated the movement of avatar lips via processing phonemes.

4th Phase 21st C - Major Expansion in Commercial Virtual World User Bases, Enhanced Content
2003 to present - Second Life - Popular open-ended commercial virtual environment with (1) in-world live editing, (2) ability to import externally created 3D objects into the virtual environment (3) advanced virtual economy
2009 to present - Avatar Reality l Blue Mars -A closed-source foray into much higher graphical realism using 3D graphics engine technology initially developed in the gaming industry

5th Phase 2007 and beyond - Open Decentralized Development
2007 - Solipsis - The first open-source decentralized virtual world system
2008 - Imprudence/ Kokua - One of the earliest alternative open-source viewers for an existing virtual world server
2009 - Open Simulator - First instance of multiple servers following the same virtual
world protocol (Second Life), later accompanied by a choice of multiple viewers that use this protocol.
2010 and beyond - Open Development of the Metaverse - Interoperability and interchangeability across servers and clients through standard virtual world protocols, formats, and digital credentials



  • Through the virtual worlds, people will be able to interact digitally more easily
    • Entertainment
    • Work
    • Education
    • Shopping
    • Dating
  • Opportunity to have a second life
    • New identity
    • New physical appearance
    • New personality
  • Research
    • Panic
    • Agoraphobia


  • Escape / comfort zone
    • Many users may want to escape or look for a comfort zone in entering these second lives
    • People may lose sense of acceptance and freedom
    • This may be similar to escaping from reality like drug or alcohol
  • Addiction → fail to deal with others / survive within real lives
    • Addiction may create a challenge as far as dealing with others and in emotionally surviving within their real lives


Room for Growth
From the increased growth of virtual asset trade to greater use of virtual worlds as tools for socializing, over time virtual worlds will evolve well beyond their gaming roots. For better or for worse, virtual worlds will increasingly function as centers of commerce, trade, and business
Next Iteration
The new algorithm is definitely needed for the mass market. As soon as common infrastructure standards like HTML and HTTP virtual worlds will reach mass market
Potential Use
Social changes such as an aging population and distributed communities, and a need for greater co-operation and collaboration in business and government
Social Space: people can meet and socialize.
Experience Space: where we are happy to have social, emotional, learning and business experiences
Entertainment Space: Beyond TV or computer, compelling, “realistic” entertainment, both user and commercially generated
Agent Space: where we can leave software agents to conduct transactions for us, drawing on our own knowledge and experiences, access the web for raw information needs
Dream Space: Virtual experiences are as real as our dream

Case Studies

Case Study 1 - The Sims

This study examined how five adolescents learned about and played a digital game, The Sims 2.
Through participant observation, I examined participants’ aesthetic preferences, spatial practices, learning strategies, and storytelling within The Sims 2.
The context of this study was a 10-week summer day camp held in a working-class Arizona community.
Findings describe participants’ avatar and building designs, strategies for making quick spatial decisions, and tool choices. Set within a visual and material culture art education framework,

Case Study 2 - Virtual worlds and fitness

Second Life Fitness
It combine the opportunities of Second Life, the virtual world, with the advantages of reality.
If you ride the bike, you can fly in Second Life.
There are currently 54 users (with a total distance of 974 km).

Case Study 3 - Education

Risks and Uncertainties in Virtual Worlds: an educator’s perspective

  • Examined how educators perceive risks and uncertainties in Virtual Worlds
  • Virtual worlds bring tremendous advantages to cyberlearning
  • Concerns about Virtual Worlds
    • Safety
      • “The level of participants’ use of virtual world had a significant effect on their overall safety concerns about the virtual worlds”
    • Privacy
    • Cyberbullying
      • “Privacy and trust are equally desirable in a learning environment”

Case Study 4 - "Avatars Help Asperger Syndrome Patients Learn to Play the Game of Life"

Virtual worlds enable hospitalized children to experience and act beyond the restrictions of their illness and help to relieve stress.
Helps hospitalized children (suffering from painful diseases or autism for example) to create a comfortable and safe environment which can expand their situation
Experience interactions (when the involvement of a multiple cultures and players from around the world is factored in)


Dionisio, John, William III, and Richard Gilbert. "3D Virtual Worlds and the Metaverse: Current Status
and Future Possibilities." ACM Computing Surveys (CSUR), vol. 45, no. 3, 2013, pp. 1-38.

Farahmand, Fariborz, Aman Yadav, and Eugene H. Spafford. "Risks and Uncertainties in Virtual Worlds: An
Educators' Perspective." Journal of Computing in Higher Education 25.2 (2013): 49-67. ProQuest. Web. 6
Nov. 2017.

“From Virtuality to Reality: Second Life Fitness.” The Medical Futurist,

Messinger, Paul R., et al. “Virtual Worlds — Past, Present, and Future: New Directions in
Social Computing.” Decision Support Systems. 2009.

Stokrocki. “Youth-Created Avatars, Sites,and Role-Playing in the Virtual GameThe Sims 2.” Visual Arts
Research, vol. 39, no. 2, 2013, p. 28., doi:10.5406/visuartsrese.39.2.0028.

“The University of Texas at Dallas.” Avatars Help Asperger Syndrome Patients Learn to Play the Game
of Life, 7 Nov. 2017,

Wasko, Molly, et al. “Virtual Worlds : Internet Communicative Practices.” Internet, Society and Culture :
Communicative Practices Before and After theInternet,2011,doi:10.5040/

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